Can 23-3 Arundel produce consecutive 4A state titles? First obstacle, today, is 17-9 Paint Branch

State girls basketball

March 12, 1998|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

So much unfamiliar territory comes with an invitation to the state tournament -- unknown opponents from the different regions, the big gym at UMBC, and all the noise it can hold.

Fifth-ranked Arundel, making its third state playoff appearance in four years, is very familiar with the unfamiliarity.

At 3 p.m. today, the Wildcats (23-3) will start their try for a second Class 4A state title, taking on West region winner Paint Branch (17-9) in a semifinal contest.

Arundel coach Lee Rogers will tell you he doesn't know a whole lot about his team's Montgomery County opponent. But the Paint Branch stat sheet provides a couple hints:

The player to look out for is 6-3 senior Christen Greene, who is committed to play at North Carolina State and is averaging 17 points and 12 rebounds a game.

The Panthers, whose last state playoff appearance was in 1989, have won their last nine games under first-year coach Heather Podosek.

"There's no secret," said Rogers. "We're not going to change anything. We have to concentrate on playing good team defense -- what we've done all season -- and make teams play the way we want to play. We respect Paint Branch. But we're going to bring a lot of heat, and I think we have a lot of answers."

The Wildcats come in playing their best basketball of the season, and they've already passed a number of big-game tests this season, the last their 68-48 win over No. 8-ranked Meade to win the East region.

"I'm comfortable with how the girls are playing right now, and they're comfortable as well and playing with a lot of confidence. You can't ask for a better time to be peaking," said Rogers.

The Wildcats are loaded with state playoff experience, led by their potent guard duo of senior Sherice Proctor (19.2 points a game, 103 steals) and junior Megan Rollins (16.5 points, 4.7 assists and 136 steals). Proctor was a freshman when the Wildcats made their first state playoff appearance in 1995; Rollins came aboard when they won their first title in 1996.

"We'll count on them to lead us, [to] have the composure to do the things needed to win. Our guards' quickness will make it tough," Rogers said.

Center Shaunte Edmonds, a 6-3 junior, has become a dominating figure inside, including a 15-point, 17-rebound effort in the region final against Meade. She also had six blocked shots in the game.

Junior starting forwards Breanna Kitchen and Lindsey Schiesz understand their roles, and the Wildcats get a boost of energy off the bench with guard Jill Maranao and forward Najmah Fauntleroy, both freshmen.

Pub Date: 3/12/98

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